AT&T chose the 6555 to highlight many of its 3G multimedia features. The phone's compatibility for AT&T Music allows you to buy music from partners such as Napster and Yahoo Music. You can browse tunes from your phone, but unlike the music service offered by Sprint or Verizon Wireless, AT&T Music does not allow you to download tracks wirelessly. Instead, they're delivered to your computer for later transfer to your phone.
The music player has a fairly minimalist design; its features include a repeat mode, an equalizer, stereo widening, and a flight mode for listening to music while aloft. Among the other music offerings are a music ID tool, XM satellite radio, MobiRadio and Billboard Mobile applications, and a selection of community services for connecting to other music fans. Unfortunately, there's no FM radio.
AT&T Video brings a satisfying range of streaming video clips, though it's arranged rather confusingly in the menu structure under Games and Apps. It offers content from such channels as NBC, Comedy Central, ESPN, The Weather Channel, VH1, and CNN. There's a special channel for kids as well, with programming from The Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network, and Muppets Mobile. Premium entertainment is offered from HBO Mobile and Music Choice for an extra charge. For a full analysis of the offerings, see our AT&T Video review. MobiTV applications are integrated as well.
The 1.3-megapixel camera takes photos in five resolutions, from 1,280x1,024 down to 160x120. Editing options include three quality settings, four color effects, a night mode, brightness and white-balance settings, a self-timer, a multishot option, and a digital zoom. The 6555's camcorder shoots clips with sound in two resolutions (176x155 and 128x96) and a set of editing options similar to the still camera's. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 20 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for as long as the available memory permits.
Speaking of which, the 6555 has 30MB of internal memory. That's a bit low for a multimedia phone, so we suggest investing in a microSD card. The phone's memory-card slot accommodates cards as large as 4GB. Photo quality was disappointing. Though colors were natural, the images were dim with visible splotches and lines.
You can personalize the 6555 with a variety of color themes, wallpapers, animations, and alert sounds. If you want more options or more ringtones, you can download them from AT&T's via the XHTML wireless Web browser. The 6555 includes four demo games titles: BrainChallenge, FF Fugitive 3D, Midnight Pool, and Tetris. You'll have to download the full versions for extended play. You also get a demo of the My-Cast 5 weather application for checking forecast across the United States. The application requires a subscription.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS) Nokia 6555 world phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was quite nice on the whole. We enjoyed clear conversations with little static or distortion. Voices sounded natural, and the volume was sufficiently loud. Very occasionally the sound cut in and out for a second, but it wasn't enough to distract from the overall sharpness. What's more, we never had a dropped call and had little trouble getting a signal. On their end, callers reported no significant issues problems, save for a slight tinny quality to our voice. Automated calling systems had little trouble understanding us.
Speakerphone calls were clear, but the volume level was somewhat low. Indeed, we had trouble hearing callers, and they had trouble hearing us unless we were in a quiet room. On the upside, the front-facing speaker directs the audio toward you when using the speakerphone with the flip closed. We were able to connect the 6555 to a Bluetooth headset and experienced satisfying call quality.
The Nokia 6555 has a rated battery life of six hours talk time and 9.5 days standby time. Yet our tests revealed a much lower talk time of just 2 hours. That's a disappointing measurement for a Nokia and for a GSM phone. According to FCC radiation tests, the 6555 has a digital SAR rating rating of 1.25 watts per kilogram.